September 25: which me does robert remember?

As a schoolboy and a student I was pretty good at football and many people who knew me at that time may well think of that competence as my defining characteristic. A few years later I was less good at football. My friend Robert is having a birthday dinner tomorrow. On Robert’s invitation, I remember turning out for some journalist team in my late twenties or early thirties with Robert, no doubt, expecting me to reveal the full panoply of skills I had exhibited as a very young man. During that match I remember trying to take a corner and, exhausted as I was, being unable to hoist the cross into the box and receiving a broadside from the big centre-halves who had come up to put the ball into the back of the net. In a word, I was not as good as I had been. Which me does Robert remember today? On another occasion a few years ago I remember finding a photograph of some of my former schoolfriends on Friends Reunited thirty or more years on. I knew the names but this portrait of fat men in a Manchester pub bore absolutely no resemblance to the boys I had once known. Which version of Paul Hadfield or Michael Kenyon am I to store in the filing cabinet of my memory? Every time you re-meet someone after a period of absence you are watching for which version of  Paul Hadfield will turn up. The old you is partially eclipsed by the new you, but the partial blindness that a lifetime of looking at the sun has caused in us means that we continue seeing the old you, even though that person is now almost completely obscured.

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